Tuesday, August 15, 2006

O Canada!

I don't know if you guessed that my trip was to Montreal, but that's where I've been for the last couple of days. (I'm still here/there—but I return to DC today.)

I've done rather less conferencing than in years past. As of Sunday, I'd only been to one session—on Sunday. After that, I went to the section reception, where I had a glass of wine and some frou-frou hors d'oeuvres.

Monday was my big conference day. I was a discussant for an informal session (roundtable), there were two other sessions I wanted to attend, and my section had its business meeting. As it turned out, my friend from Iowa, "Karen," lay in wait for me after the roundtable and said, "Dim Sum?" Off we went to nearby Montreal Chinatown for a delicious lunch. (And I missed one of the sessions I planned to attend. Oh well.)

Montreal is an interesting city. I've explored a little, but I've also taken it easy when I felt like it. I've been so tired that I went back for afternoon naps on Saturday and Sunday. (Why am I so tired? Perhaps going to sleep at 2am on Tuesday and Wednesday and 1am on Thursday last week would explain it.)

I knew this was a French-speaking city, but I didn't realize how little English I would encounter. All the signs are in French and many are NOT translated into English. I can read street signs because of my Spanish and Italian, but just barely. Everyone does speak a little, halting, easy to understand English, so it 's not hard to get by. I have a running joke with my roommates where we (mostly me) curse the French. One night, for example, flipping through the tv stations, I said, "It's all in French! Goddamn it!" Roommate Pam cracked up and added, "Yeah, what are they thinking?"

My luggage arrived 24 hours after I did, and boy was I happy to change my clothing. Who knew it would be so great to get into long pants again (I'd been wearing the same pair of black capris for two days)?

Monday morning I got up at 7am and went for a run. Twenty minutes running total (4 minute intervals, with one minute walks in between). When did I get so good?

Tuesday morning, my legs were sore and I could feel the shin splints starting. (Who me? Overdo it? Never!) So I opted for a metro ride to an unexplored neighborhood (Laurier) and a very good pastry from a famous bakery. And—much to my delight—free wifi.

Other highlights: Pam saying she described me to someone as her, "technologically adept friend." Pam and Karen rolling into the room in time for dinner, slightly tipsy, and Pam saying, "I want to hear more dating stories!"

I told Pam and Karen all about my recent encounter with David. Karen is a regular reader, but Pam only knew about the blog (from Karen) but hadn't seen it.

I more or less "auditioned" the David story for them (they were an excellent audience—very participatory). Pam read some of it later and said, "I liked it better when you told us in person. Your expressions…your tone of voice…make it so much more interesting."

And that is what I can't convey in the blog. I'm very expressive. I do impressions. I laugh a lot. I make faces, roll my eyes, wave my hands around. Telling stories in person is one of my great joys in life. But, as I pointed out to Pam, when I tell a story in person it's in the context of a conversation. The other person has to talk too—it's interactive. When I write the story for the blog, I can put in everything—all the dialog, all the telling details and lots of reflections. It's no longer a conversation (well, it sort of is, with the comments)—it's the reader's choice to stick around and they can decide if they want to read the story or not.

I told Pam she is welcome to keep reading. She told me that I could tell her to stop reading if I decided I was uncomfortable with it later. Nope, not gonna happen. You are most welcome, Pam.

I've taken it easy in Montreal. I know almost nothing about the city and I've done very little touring. I've been on the metro a couple of times, seen some of the further out areas, but mostly, I've taken a vacation from my daily routine. I'm so lucky to have had a chance to do that. I'm having a great time.

I'll have some pics for you later this week.

Grateful for: a vacation.

Drop me a line.

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